Principal Subunits

Functionally, K+ channel principal subunits can be grouped into several main classes.

  • Some are activated by membrane depolarisation and these channels are termed voltage-gated K+ channels.
  • The second group are channels whose open probability depends on the intracellular Ca2 concentration (known as Ca2+-activated K+ channels).
  • Another class may be open at all membrane potentials, but favour the influx rather the efflux of K+ ions, and also termed inward rectifying K+ (Kir) channels.
  • "Leak" K+ channels are so termed because of the apparent lack of gating control

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Last updated: March 9, 2003
Based on data as published in: Coetzee, W.A., Y. Amarillo, J. Chiu, A. Chow, T. McCormack, H. Moreno, M. Nadal, A. Ozaita, D. Pountney, E. Vega-Saenz de Miera, and B. Rudy. Molecular Diversity of K+ Channels. In: Molecular and Functional Diversity of Ion Channels and Receptors, edited by B. Rudy and P. Seeburg. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1999. [Download PDF file]